Trump’s Move to Pull U.S. Out of World Health Organization Could Impact Global Health Adversely: Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured at the World Health Organization (WHO) building in Geneva, Switzerland, February 2, 2020. Picture taken February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
The plan by President Trump to “withdraw from the World Health Organization will affect the global healthcare system adversely,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at World Health Organization said. The Indian origin top scientists at the WHO was addressing The First Ever Virtual Summer Summit by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), held from June 16th to 28th, 2020.
 
The Trump administration sent a letter giving the United Nations a one-year notice for the U.S. to quit the World Health Organization, formalizing President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the agency even as the coronavirus rages out of control in the U.S. and in many other countries.
 
The administration sent the letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday, making the U.S. withdrawal official on July 6, 2021, under a requirement for a one-year notice, according to Stephane Dujarric, the secretary-general’s spokesman. It’s almost certain that Democratic rival Joe Biden would reverse Trump’s decision if he’s elected in November.
 
 US President Donald Trump’s decision, announced on 29 May, to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) was never in doubt. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the White House has been intensifying its charge that the WHO was slow to respond to the threat, and overly influenced by China. Undoubtedly, the agency has lessons to learn, and, at the World Health Assembly last month, WHO member states endorsed an independent evaluation. It is irresponsible and dangerous for the United States — the WHO’s largest donor — to bypass the agreed process and withhold roughly US$450 million in annual funding in the middle of one of the worst pandemics in recent history. This will undermine the world’s efforts to control the new coronavirus and will endanger more lives as COVID-19 continues on its destructive path.
 
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said he learned of President Trump’s intentions of “terminating” the decades-long U.S. relationship with WHO through Trump’s press briefing. “The U.S. government’s and its people’s contribution and generosity toward global health over many decades has been immense, and it has made a great difference in public health all around the world. It is WHO’s wish for this collaboration to continue,” Tedros said.
 
 
While stating that the monetary contributions of the US will not be a huge factor if it chose to leave the world body, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said, due to the close collaboration between US Healthcare Agencies and WHO, the departure of the US will affect the ongoing sharing of scientific data and thus prevent the world from accessing and sharing of knowledge and research which are vital for developing vaccines and effective healthcare delivery system around the world. “Good health is the foundation for good economy,” she said. Neglecting health will affect the economic progress negatively, she added.
 
She referred to the Accelerated Program to study and find the most effective drug/vaccination development that is accessible to all the nations, and creating safe protocol and procedure for all nations as well developing International Health Regulations by WHO. She pointed to the Global Outbreak Network with 10,000 healthcare professionals from around the world, who are deployed in emergencies. WHO Academy has been set up train Healthcare workers to manage and respond to emergencies, she said.
 
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan pointed out the examples of how smaller nations and the state of Kerala in India have been able to contain the virus spread due though long term investment in education and healthcare and via decentralization. She urged the nations for urgent investment in health care mostly on primary healthcare focusing on prevention rather than treatment. Referring to several initiatives under WHO in coordination with countries and private companies to develop safe vaccine and to prevent the spread of the virus, she spoke about the Accelerated Program to study and find the most effective drug/vaccination development that is accessible to all the nations.

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